BRADFORD TAYLOR, CPA
Many people know Bradford (Brad) Taylor as one of the hardest-working, passionate accountants in Windsor. He runs his eponymous practice, Bradford Taylor CPA Professional Corporation, and managed to achieve significant milestones over his 15 years in business. However, it almost wasn't so.
Speaking to My Business Magazine recently, Brad recalls that his whole life, he thought he would end up working at his father’s car dealership in Kingston, ON, alongside his brothers. Summer vacations were spent working there and after high school, Brad and two of his brothers earned degrees in Automotive Marketing from Northwood University in Michigan. At Northwood Brad met his college sweetheart Amy, who would go on to become his wife.
After working for seven years at the dealership in various departments, Brad came to the realization that his true love was accounting and tax. With the support of his parents, he went back to school to earn his professional accountant designation. Right away, he was earning straight A’s during the two years at college in Kingston before diving into specialized CPA courses to earn his professional degree, which took another two years.
Brad was fortunate enough to find a job at a small accounting firm in Windsor led by Alexander Menzies, who taught him many valuable lessons over six years in running a small practice. It was that wisdom that encouraged him to open his own business, offering a wide range of financial services, including accounting and tax services to small businesses and individuals, both Canadian and American.
His office is centrally located in Windsor, just a 10 minute drive from home. He's been there since day one and is now a mainstay. Brad recalls hearing long ago that success often comes with being like a big maple tree: stay there long enough and people will know where to find you.
One Stop Shop, One Man Show
Bradford Taylor CPA Professional Corporation is truly a one-stop shop for a whole range of financial needs, from taxes to bookkeeping, financial statements to immigration and emigration tax issues, estate planning to payroll. Brad works with 30 corporations and 300 individuals for all their financial needs, and the most astonishing part? He is the one and only employee of the practice. On top of doing all the tax returns and financial statements, Brad is also the receptionist, the bookkeeper, and manages to meet with the clients.
"It's just something that works for me," he says of the unique situation. "I’m painfully organized, I've always been like that, and I'm a multi-tasker."
Plus, thanks to technology, wearing so many hats is truly possible. "It’s the 21st century," Brad says. "I could not have done this 20 years ago. During tax season, I receive 50 emails per day, from perhaps 15 clients, both new and existing. Imagine playing phone tag to get answers to questions 20 years ago? Impossible for those numbers."
"On my website I refer to ‘we’ because my practice is run by three people; me, myself, and I," he says. "Me, who is the junior always taking continuing education courses to stay current with the tax laws; myself, who is the director and decision maker of the company; and I, who is the one getting his hands dirty and putting in the long hours when necessary."
"As far as I'm concerned, manpower is the biggest expense so if you can do it on your own and make it look easy, why not? As long as technology works, I know I'll be fine because I can count on myself. My clients like it because they know they will get the best results.
Tax Season Hustle
Tax Season for Brad is likened to a sports team during the playoffs. It's all hands on deck for him, even if he's the only one there. For this reason, every year from March 1 to April 30, he puts in seven-day work weeks.
A typical workday during tax season consists of arriving at the office around 7:30am, meeting with four or five clients during the day, managing to squeeze in time to actually do the tax returns, going home for a quick dinner prepared by his “awesome” wife, and then heading back to work to do more tax returns until 8:00 pm. Saturdays are similar, except that he never works after dinner, and Sundays are just for working on tax returns; no meetings. As a result, he's able to handle 300 tax returns in 60 days. Of those, usually 25% are American and many have highly complex issues such as foreign rental property income and disposals.
The long hours pay off big though. According to a recent accountant billing survey, Brad is only the second accountant in Ontario to reach the $200,000 revenue plateau as a sole practitioner without employees. He credits this feat to many long-time clients, some referrals, and his seven-day work weeks during tax season.
What gets him through this grueling schedule for two whole months? He is completely dedicated to what he does and works with laser focus. "The most important thing is that I love what I do," he says. "Otherwise I couldn’t do it."
Brad says that as long as his email doesn’t break down, his computer programs keep working, and he doesn't get sick, he "can get through those 60 days; always have, always will. Short term pain for long term gain." He hasn't missed a day yet, either that he recalls. “I take short vacations for the benefit of my clients” he says.
Going the Extra Mile
"I love getting up every morning and going to work," Brad says, "and I like getting money into people's pockets and out of the government's pockets. This is Canada, we are taxed to the max as it is."
Brad always goes the extra mile to find ways his clients can either save money or get more money back on their returns. "Often I find people pay too much tax simply because some accountants don't ask enough questions or don’t know where to look for loop-holes that are available in the particular situation," he says. "Accountants should be asking a lot more questions. If they're not, it’s time to find another accountant."
For example, when he works with someone who is self-employed, Brad looks for any expenses possible to deduct, from pens and paper, to phone bills, to home office costs, and the cost of their car if it's used for business. "Some are a fine line to walk, but I'd rather walk that line to make sure the tax you pay is the minimum," he explains. "I don’t mind taking a risk of having a tax return re-assessed because I took too many deductions; I am confident that I can convince the CRA or IRS that my position was reasonable and comparable to past court cases."
Although he sometimes takes on a few extra clients each year, in general Brad is selective about with who he chooses to work with. The clients who are fortunate enough to work with him, though, get his full attention. "Every Christmas, I send all of my clients Christmas cards just to let them know that I care and that I'm here if they need my assistance."
Sources of Inspiration
Brad is now in his 15th year of business, but he emphasizes that it's a success story that couldn't have been done alone. First, he credits his wife Amy as one of the secrets to his success, saying she's been his biggest supporter, friend, and partner since day one. "Her love as a wife, friend, and mother cannot be overstated, I’m very fortunate to have her in my life" he says.
Second, he credits his late father’s teachings about basic, essential business principles. The first principle? "Treat the customer like they are number one, no matter what business you are in." The second? "Charge enough so that you can have a successful business; the good clients will stay because they know they are getting full value."
A Family Man
"I wish I could say that I am an accountant by day and a fire fighter by night, but it is not that glamorous," Brad jokes. "Outside of the office, I lead a quiet life and enjoy spending time with Amy, who also works in Windsor, son Ben who just graduated from St. Clair College, and our dog Suri." Their oldest child, Michelle, recently moved to Toronto with her boyfriend and she is currently pursuing her career in the Hotel industry. “We also visit family in both Michigan and Kingston whenever we can get away.
Aside from March and April, Brad works regularly with his 30 corporate clients. Thanks to call forwarding, he's able to leave the office around 3:00 pm every day and doesn't need to work weekends unless a client requests a special appointment. "I am always in the office with call forwarding. I never miss a call. Since my office is not on a main street where there is foot traffic, I have no fear of missing someone coming in. If someone does in fact stop by without me at the office, I have a sign on the door asking them to drop their package or documents in my secure mailbox; my clients love that feature. Ten months of the year I am working smart, not hard."
"Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I can reduce this or that clients’ taxes," he explains, adding that he prepares each tax return, both corporate and personal, as if it were his own.
Michelle Grossman has spent over a decade in field of news and media, covering everything from business to energy to pop culture and more. Her passion for writing comes from asking the big questions that get to the heart of every story.
BRADFORD TAYLOR CPA
4510 RHODES DRIVE SUITE 30 WINDSOR, ON N8W5K5 519-944-8383